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If Apple wants me to believe the iPhone is a gaming phone, it needs to take notes from Android phones

But in their push to make the iPhone more gamer friendly, Apple forgot one simple feature, which Android handsets have had for a few years now:

A dedicated gaming mode

Now, I — as well as many others — didn’t really take gaming modes seriously when the concept was in its infancy. Developers stated the feature clears up the phone’s background tasks and forced the processor to always work at full power, so that we get good performance at all times. “Whoopee”, I thought, “that sounds like a gimmick that may or may not give us a 5% boost in performance”.

But what really makes a gaming mode is not the supposed overclocking or RAM management. No, it’s the little things — like having your notifications pop up in a small, non-intrusive manner, or not pop up at all. Or automatically turning off Auto-Brightness for the time of playing.

Doing what I do on a daily basis, I often find myself using a different phone as a daily driver. And let me tell you, as much as I praised the iPhone’s gaming prowess in the first half of this article, there’s nothing I dread more than receiving a barrage of messages while playing a high-octane round of Call of Duty or trying to survive a run on Full of Stars on the iPhone. iOS’ notification banners are huge, intrusive, and persistent, to the point you start hating your friends for wanting to communicate with you.

“Just turn on Do Not Disturb”, you say? Yeah, that’ll work, as long as you remember to toggle it on and off every time you open or close a game, respectively. When it comes to full screen content and unobtrusive notifications, Android handles them better, often without the need of user input — the default settings are pretty close to “Let’s try to not mess up this guy’s winning streak”.

Then, we have the issue with the ambient light sensor and its effect on the “auto brightness” setting. Let me start by pointing out that the iPhone’s proximity sensor works in cahoots with the light sensor. If the former detects that your hand is covering the latter, no steps will be taken to automatically adjust brightness. And that’s great — kudos to Apple for that stealthy feature.

But often, we play our games in environments with directional lighting, or rapid change in lighting, where the phone is in such an angle that we need more brightness — or less of it — than the software is willing to give us. To top it off, Apple insists that it knows exactly what you want and the Auto-Brightness toggle keeps getting buried deeper and deeper in the iPhone’s settings. Right now, you can find it in Settings -> Accessibility -> Display & Text Size -> Auto-Brightness (at the very bottom of the page). So, it’s not a simple “toggle it manually” solution.

First world problems!

Minor grievances and nonsensical ramblings? Probably. The point I am trying to make is that every other company, which markets its phone as a “gaming smartphone” — or simply insists that it’s super-powerful — includes these basic gaming features, nicely bundled into a Gaming Mode (naming varies). Apple, despite developing a whole platform for games in the form of Apple Arcade, still kind of refuses to adopt these pretty basic features, which is not really out of style for the company. I do think that we will see some form of “do not disturb while gaming” option make its way to iOS in the next couple of iterations — those being iOS 14 and iOS 15.

Preslav Kateliev

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